Friday, November 4, 2011

Aimless Reading: The P's, Part 18 (Francis Parkman, Jr.)

The Oregon Trail
Parkman, Jr., Francis
The Oregon Trail

Purchased at the late, lamented Niagara Falls Outlet Mall Discount Book Store. For $3, no less.

The part of my dissertation that I did actually write was a chapter on Charles Olson's Call Me Ishmael. From the get-go the book showers the reader in a flurry of allusions the dutiful scholar feels compelled to track down. Obviously, it is necessary to read Moby Dick, not to mention everything else by Melville.

But Olson makes reference to a lot of other interesting books, including this one, which I think he mentions in the first couple of paragraphs. He is talking about exploration being the first American story and notes that Parkman's book is the first of these stories.

If it weren't such an interesting book in its own right, I'd probably feel it necessary to put it in the Olson section. But Olson's shelf is pretty heavy at this point. It's even sagging a little, so I'll give him a break and leave Parkman to the P's.

from The Oregon Trail

Accordingly, our preparation being now complete, we attempted one fine morning to commence our journey. The first step was an unfortunate one. No sooner were our animals put in harness, than the shaft mule reared and plunged, burst ropes and straps, and nearly flung the cart into the Missouri. Finding her wholly uncontrollable, we exchanged her for another, with which we were furnished by our friend Mr. Boone of Westport, a grandson of Daniel Boone, the pioneer. This foretaste of prairie experience was very soon followed by another. Westport was scarcely out of sight, when we encountered a deep muddy gully, of a species that afterward became but too familiar to us; and here for the space of an hour or more the car stuck fast.

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